Climate Justice

"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.”

-United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Climate Change 2007 Synthesis Report

Human activity, such as burning fossil fuels for home heating, transportation and various industrial activities including mining, manufacturing and large-scale farming, is the primary cause of global climate change. Historically, this activity and the resulting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have been the responsibility of the global North, or the wealthy, industrialized nations.

Yet the burden of climate change –extreme weather events, drought, flooding, crop failures, destroyed fisheries and loss of habitat and homeland– is being disproportionately borne by poor and marginalized communities of the global South, peoples who are the least responsible for the changes we are seeing in the world today.

Climate change is thus more than a question of environmental sustainability; it is a question of justice. KAIROS believes that climate justice involves making real reductions in carbon emissions as well as addressing the social and economic inequities between the rich and the poor—both of these are inextricably linked.

Resources from KAIROS

Ethical Reflections on Fracking

Fracking Protest

The practice of hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) for shale gas and oil raises significant ecological and Indigenous rights issues. On 8 April 2014, KAIROS released a discussion paper inviting our member churches to consider whether KAIROS should endorse a moratorium on fracking. The paper documents several ecological issues, including the connection between fracking and water contamination, earthquakes and the release of methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. It also describes how Indigenous peoples in North and South America are at the forefront of resistance to fracking.

Joint Review Panel report on proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline Project downplays Indigenous and ecological concerns


Despite overwhelming opposition from First Nations and their allies, the Joint Review Panel has given the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project conditional approval.

UN Climate Talks Move Backwards: Developed States Refuse Meaningful Action


Once again a UN conference on climate change has failed to take meaningful action despite the devastation wrought by typhoon Haiyan. Youth attending the conference in Warsaw singled out Canada and Australia for refusing to hear the urgent pleas for action from developing countries.

IPCC Confirms We Must Act Now on Climate Change: Briefing Paper #37

IPRCC - How Hot will it get

KAIROS’ latest briefing paper evaluates the strength and weaknesses of the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It cites a new study by climate scientist James Hansen showing how burning just one-third of remaining fossil fuels would make the Earth uninhabitable. The paper describes how both the carbon budget suggested by the IPCC and the International Energy Agency’s calculations highlight the need to keep most known fossil fuel reserves, especially from the tar sands, in the ground. It concludes with a discussion of tar sands export pipelines and feasible alternatives for reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

Poverty, Wealth and Ecology in Canada

A study for the Alternative Globalization Addressing People and the Earth (AGAPE) program of the World Council of Churches. Abstract: Poverty persists in Canada amidst apparent wealth generated in particular by the petroleum and financial industries. Inequality in income distribution is increasing to the detriment not only of the impoverished but also the entire society. […]

Hungry for Climate Justice: Second Annual Climate Fast Begins September 21

ClimateFast Poster

A group of faith-based climate justice activists heads to Parliament Hill this Saturday for a fast bringing attention to the need for serious and immediate action on the contributing causes of climate change. They will be there until October 2. Read on to find out how you can join them in solidarity and action.

KAIROS Concerned About the Expansion of Petroleum Licensing in the Amazon

Yasuni ITT

In response to a call from our partner, Accion Ecologica, KAIROS wrote a letter to the Ambassador of Ecuador, expressing concern about the expansion of petroleum licensing and exploitation in the Amazon, including in ecologically fragile areas and Indigenous territory.

Will Obama’s Climate Speech be a Game Changer?

U.S. President Obama wipes his brow while he speaks about his vision to reduce carbon pollution in Washington

On a blistering hot June day in Washington, President Obama delivered a major speech on climate change. Many interpret the event as his attempt to establish a legacy as a progressive leader deeply committed to leaving future generations “a cleaner, safer and more stable world.”[1] Whether this initiative will actually represent an historical turning point […]

Keystone Debate is Heating Up

Keystone Debate

While ecologists and Indigenous peoples are increasing pressure on President Obama to deny a permit to the Keystone XL pipeline, Canadian government and oil industry executives are lobbying hard for its acceptance. This bulletin updates KAIROS’ analysis of the debate emphasizing the urgent need to prevent catastrophic climate change.            

“Process Water” Spill at Suncor – More Bad News for Canada’s Water

Tar sands site along Athabasca River north of Fort McMurray. Photo: Sara Stratton

On Tuesday, March 26, Suncor announced that there had been a leak of “process water” (water used in the chemical process of separating bitumen from tar sands) at its tar sands plant north of Fort McMurray. What does this mean for the environment and for Indigenous peoples in the area?